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Robots must pay Tax!

More than half of SA’s population is living in poverty, data from Statistics South Africa revealed. According to the Poverty Trends Report for 2006 to 2015, 30.4 million people (55.5% of the population) is living in poverty. This is up from the 53.2% or 27.3 million people reported in 2011.

The other evening I am driving home and I stop at a red traffic light next Monte Casino. It was about 9pm. The weather was changing to cold and it was another windy August evening. Two ladies run across the street from the Casino side. They were wearing black and white uniform and they looked like they were staff from the Casino, perhaps croupiers. They were running towards a taxi stop. I looked across and there was not a single taxi at the stop. So I looked around me and there was not a single taxi on William Nicol, one of the busiest main roads in Joburg. It dawned on me that it was after 8pm and therefore there are no more taxis at that time.

We live in a country where half of the population is living in poverty and yet the taxis finish at 9pm? how does this make any sense? Restaurant kitchens close at 10pm but the public transport for the masses is not available after 8pm? Something is wrong here. I was in Spain and we went out to dinner at 10pm. People in first world countries go to restaurants at 10pm. In South Africa we want to close the restaurants at 10pm. If my restaurant closed at midnight I could afford to hire two shifts of staff. There would be a morning to lunch shift and lunch to dinner shift. I could basically hire twice as many people than I do now. I currently don’t do breakfast in order to avoid two shifts.

How many times have you rushed from work only to arrive at a retailer, let’s say a pharmacy and be greeted by a shop steward who takes great joy to show you a pirates hand gesture indicating shop closed. Shops are open while we are all at work. When we need them most on our way home or when already at home, then everything is closed.

If every shop opened till midnight I believe we could slash South Africa’s unemployment rate and therefore poverty rate. The best part it’s not even hard to implement this solution. It could be done overnight.

When shops are open till late that means most corporates can run till late, it means delivery services can run till late, it means support services can run till late. It also means everyone business can run two shifts. A whole eco system that needs to support the evening shift gets created including public transport at night.

That means all the good private schools that are empty at night can now teach under privileged kids at night.

To make people adopt this we could run two different monetary structures. If you want to work at night you can earn slightly more. If you send your kids to night school they can pay slightly less. Whatever the incentive, I do like the idea of Day and night walkers.

Imagine having the ability to choose the time you would like to work on different days. I see most people choosing to work Monday evenings.

You know the sad part is that jobs globally are on a downward trajectory but for a reason that has not yet affected SA. Robotics and AI are expected to make a number of professions redundant. Professions such as medicine, accounting, pharmacy, teaching and taxi driving will all not be done by humans in the next 10 years.

AI and robotics are ideal for highly repetitive jobs with lots of data. You can teach a robot anything when you have many repetitive data points. So tellers, waiters, people who work in the post office can all and will be replaced by machines. I love Outsurance pointsman and women, with a car counter and traffic light AI they can be replaced overnight. Artificial intelligence can study day traffic pattern allowing the traffic light to change accordingly as opposed to the preset standard times.

Autonomous warfare is another interesting field where unmanned drones and tanks will carry out all future wars. Terminator will be real in ten years. And yes robo cops too.

Personally I think there is no way around this progress, and when this progress hits Africa unemployment rates will be more astronomical than they are now. I do think that Robots that take over human jobs should pay tax. All those taxes should be use to educate the population into jobs machines can’t do, like art, design and entrepreneurship.

The machines are coming. I’ll be buck…tomorrow

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